Truth be told, it has been 11 years since my last air travel; it was way back in 2006 when I last traveled to and from America, so I was definitely excited, and a bit confused, while travelling to Singapore a few days back.
I was excited, simply because it has been 11 years since I boarded a plane, and excited because Singapore is one of the countries I have yet to visit, and by golly, I heard great things about it.
I was confused, since I don’t remember how to travel; I don’t remember where to go, what stations to pass by in the airport, and I don’t know the process for me to travel nowadays since I have a dual citizenship (I am both American and Filipino citizen, but only had a U.S. Passport). Luckily, my sister, who is also a physician, and also dual citizen, happened to have traveled to Thailand a month ago, and she got first hand experience when it comes to the extra paper works we needed as dual citizens.
Now, skipping the boring airport procedures, let us begin with me waiting to be board the plane: like I mentioned above it has been 11 years since I boarded a plane, let alone be in another country entirely, and with that thought, I guess I was a little too excited for my own good and wasn’t able to sleep the night before. This lead me to be a bit off the day of the flight, unsure if I can really stay awake during the duration of the flight. It also didn’t help that the trip to the airport didn’t help me sleep either, so here I am, being a wake for effectively 36 hours since I had work the day before, trying valiantly to enjoy my first air flight in 11 years.
When it is finally time to board the plane, I was right smack down in the middle of the plan, the middlemost seat, which in theory is the best as most people would say that you’d feel less of the effects of the flight there, of course, I would rather have the aisle seats, more specifically, next to the window, even if in fact, by the time you take flight, you’d see nothing but clouds and the body of water, but hey, I am easily entertained.
Thankfully I sat next to one of our friends also on the trip, who happens to also be my mentor during medschool, so it was cool that I had him next to me for the flight.
Overall, I am happy with the trip, it helped that it was just a short flight of 3 hours, so it was a perfect reintroduction to air flight as I plan to either visit Japan later this year or visit back home in America, also sometime later this year.
My only qualm from my first flight in 11 years is simply I ordered a certain breakfast in flight meal, and they got it wrong, it was tough to have it switched to the right one seeing that I am seated in the middle of the flight, so I let it go, but I made sure on the flight back home, I will have the right meal.
And so, we landed in Changi International Airport, and I know that most airports are better than NAIA, but wow, I was impressed by Changi, and all the more impressed when we were on the road; the lack thereof of traffic jams, the cleanliness, the overall beauty of Singapore, scream everywhere. I was blown away.
Right off the bat, I will mention that we are here only for 3 days; the main reason we all went here is that my sister and our 2 other friends wanted to catch Coldplay in concert. I, on the other hand, just wanted to go around so I didn’t bother with a ticket. That is not to say I don’t like Coldplay, I do, I have a lot of songs that I like from them, but I am not a concert kind of guy. If it were The Cure, however, I will definitely watch them. I digress.
Being obviously a tourist hot spot, most people understand English, thus making it very easy for me to order food and whatnot, and feel very confident when the time for my sister and friends will inevitably will leave me for the concert. My confidence is further increased when the area, overall, seems to be a safe place, unlike here in the Philippines when the sun goes down, you have to constantly look over you shoulder and be vigilant. I am not trying to ruin the Philippines in terms of safety, but come on, people that live here will know what I mean… don’t pretend you don’t know what I mean.
As the trio set off to line up for Coldplay, I decided to explore. I don’t plan on using the Taxi or anything of the like seeing that I wanna spend less on the commute and more on items, plus it makes it easy for me to see the actual sights and sounds, so to speak.
Since I play lots of video games that are open world, I was not to worried about getting lost, and again, it helps that everyone speaks English very well. What worried me most was my knee; as you all know by now, I had surgery nearly 3 years ago and I still have difficulty longing long distances and standing for long periods of time. It was just the sheer adrenaline of being somewhere new that kept me going really.
Sure, I succumbed to fatigue, going in and out of the hotel I was staying in, Premier Inn Hotel, and then heading towards the nearest coffee shop to get a sugar rush in order to resume my exploration; I am a big Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf fan, but sadly, I can’t find any nearby, so I settled for Starbucks, my former love.
After the much needed sugar rush, I am back on the road, exploring on my own. I was this close in getting to Merlion Park by myself, but having air traveled just in the morning and not having enough sleep to back it up, I reached the end of my energy tank, and had to call it a day and head back to the hotel. Overall, I had so much fun exploring on my own, tomorrow surely will be even better.
Next day… it started a bit slow, cos we all woke up late. Having washed up and ready to go exploring again, we waited for my former Resident/Mentor when I was but a wee medical clerk, Doc Noe, who has moved to Singapore and is a physician there, so who better to show us around than him, while my sister and 2 other friends, who are also physicians and my mentors, catch up with their colleague. Just 5 physicians hanging out in Singapore.
Doc Noe then treated us to a nice hearty meal, and as the afternoon was ending, a photo of the former AUFMC IM residents along with their boss/mentor is definitely a must.
At the evening, we managed to meet up with Doc Jap’s high school classmate who happened to also have moved to Singapore; he also treated us to a delicious dinner and then showed us around.
Though we didn’t get to visit places like Merlion Park and the like, Orchard Road was pretty neat by itself; lot’s of places to eat, shop, or simply look around. I was on the lookout for some action figures so it isn’t surprising that when I arrived in Singapure I would go straight to the action figure shops, sadly, no Macross figures in stock at that time. Maybe next time…
As the night turned into early morning, we wanted to see Mustafa since it is supposedly a 24 hour lot for electronics and whatnot, but we were just too tired already; we headed back to the hotel and of course, the packing comes next. Now since I didn’t really get to buy anything interesting this time around during my visit, it was relatively easy packing, especially when my sister bought herself a Samsonite luggage as pictured above. For my friends’ souvenirs, I decided to just buy a lot of souvenirs in the airport later in the morning.
Finally, had just about enough sleep for the trip back home. After a quick bite to eat, it is straight to the airport and on the way back home to the Philippines. After 2 and a half days away from home, I must say, I was already getting home sick, hence, I was very eager to hop on that plane and get home.
Upon arriving back home, the first thing that greeted me was the wall of humidity and heat; Singapore wasn’t really at its coldest at that time we visited, but boy oh boy, nothing can beat the heat of the Philippines. The next thing I immediately miss about Singapore is the free flowing traffic; back here, man, the traffic jams are a stuff of legend.
I don’t know if it was apparent in the post, but I was slightly hinting that I am planning to go back to Singapore later this year, for I am a Formula 1 fan for 21 years now, and I heard that it may be the last Singapore GP in F1 for the foreseeable future (not yet sure), I jumped at the chance of finally watching a race live in person. I will also be traveling on my won for the first time in my life, so it all the more, it will be a special experience.
I have yet to book my flight, book a hotel, or even buy a ticket for F1, but I’m pretty much sure about this trip, just have to finalize the seating (gotta find good seats, of course) and ask Doc Jap’s friends what hotel to book into, and we are ready for the race!
Anyways, overall, my 1st flight in 11 years, thankfully a short one, and thankfully a beautiful place like Singapore to visit, was a fun and well worthwhile one. I am not much of a traveler, but honestly, apart from going back to Singapore for the race and going to the States to see my home again, I plan to go to Taiwan, South Korea, and Japan in the near future. Somehow, visiting Singapore whet my appetite for traveling. Maybe this geek should see more of what the world has to offer…
Til next time! PEACE!
I will add a few of my favorite shots I took with my DSLR (you can click on the title/caption to be linked to my Flickr:
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